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24.3.07

Seed-Starting Pots From Newspaper

One easy and frugal way to get lots of pots for seed starting is to make them from things you may find around your house. Making seed starting pots from newspaper is not only very cheap but you're keeping trash out of landfills. To make your own seed starting pot is very simple. First, take a sheet of newspaper and fold it in half so that it is about the length of a can of soda (or "pop" as we say in Chicago) and then just roll the soda can until it wraps around the can. After that just fold in one end of the newspaper to make the bottom and you have a quick and cheap pot for starting seeds that you made from newspapers that you were just going to throw away.

Newspaper seed starting pots



In the photo below I used this technique to start some Amaryllis seeds, but you can do just about any seeds you want. When the seedlings have sprouted you can plant the whole thing in the ground where the newspaper will eventually decompose.



You can also create your own seed pots from toilette paper rolls. One good alternative I like when I only have a few seeds to work with is to make them from the tubes of gift wrapping paper. They're usually much sturdier than the tubes for paper towels or toilette paper. These seed pots can also be completely planted in the ground or into your container gardens.

Tip: set all of your homemade pots inside a take out container, if you don't have seed starting trays, so that they're touching. When you water fill the container with water and allow the water to be absorbed by the paper pots. If you're very eco-friendly make sure the newspaper you use prints with soy based ink.

Other things around your house you can use are yogurt cups, cut a water bottle in half and poke holes in th bottom for drainage, plastic containers from restaurants, Styrofoam cups from fast food restaurants or instant soup.

If you're feeling extra crafty you can also fold more complex seed starting pots by searching the internet. If you have more space and want a use for empty soda bottles make your own mini- ghetto greenhouse to start all of your seeds.

See also:
Square Newspaper Seed Starting Pots.
Homemade seed pots.
Starting seeds in soda bottles.
Paper tube seed pot holder.

52 comments:

  1. Great ideas. I use paper towel bits moistened and wrapped around the seed in a ziplock bag. When the seeds sprout, I put them in soil.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Sam,

    Using the baggie method for seed starting is a very good way. You save money on soil and you can plant up the seedlings. It's an especially good method if you want to do hydroponic gardening.

    I did an entry on it on my other blog Garden Hacker.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great tip.
    Love making use of what we already have.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey Janet.

    Thanks for stopping by. I visited and commented on your bird watching blog. Nice stuff.

    ---------------------



    The following is a comment left on my trade list post that I think would be better here.

    "corrie said...

    HI,
    an idea we use for starting seeds,
    we save CARDBOARD egg cartons, like Phils fresh, all winter long, and then in the spring sprinkle in the top soil, after cutting off the lid to use as a reinforced tray, or you can put them on cookie sheets, so that one can move the starters around in limited space. when they are wet and soggy, they tear apart easy, and can be transplanted directly into the soil."


    I followed up with a thanks and reminder that if you break the eggs just right they can also be used to start seeds and egg shells in general can go into the garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous6:19 PM

      how do the roots grow out of the bottom of the shell once you place it into the ground?

      Delete
    2. Anonymous, crush the shells as you plant them if you are worried that the roots won't have space to spread out and grow. You can also drill/poke a small hole into the bottom of the eggshell to help you with drainage and with the roots being able to grow through the shell.

      Delete
  5. A brilliant idea.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've used this once and it worked out well. Unfotunately I'm not a good seed starter and have resorted to buy plants instead.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great idea. You could use these pots inside the 2 liter pop bottles to start seeds outdoors, too. I've never had luck with seeds inside but have great success sowing outdoors.

    mrbrownthumb, love your blog. I'm an urban gardener in Chicago and enjoy your thoughts and comments on all things gardening around here.

    ReplyDelete
  8. We are gardeners will make a pot out of just about anything that will hold a little soil in it. These are great ideas!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for the tip about pots out of newspapers. I will give it a try as I'm soon to be starting my seeds.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for stopping by Ruth, Rosegeranium and Carol.

    Jennifer if you keep a blog about your garden in Chicago feel free to leave a link because your profile is blocked.

    Kate when you start yours feel free to come back and share a link to your seed starting.

    ReplyDelete
  11. We make newspaper pots to start our seeds in as well. We use a different method we found:
    http://www.geocities.com/newspaperpots/ The folding is a bit more intense, but the squares fit nicely in plastic bed box.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yeah that's a good one. It may be hard to see depending on monitors but the orange text are links. I linked that geocities site in the last paragraph.

    There's another one I've seen that isn't quite as complex but gets you the same results. I'm going to see if I can find it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sorry, no blog yet. I am tempted because there are so few blogs in the Chicago area but am afraid mine would be quite dull. Just because I am quite proud of the patch of blackberry and raspberry bushes in my little urban lot doesn't mean I can make it interesting for anyone else :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hello again Jennifer.

    As a fellow Chicagoan I think you should start a blog even if you don't think it would be very interesting to anyone other than yourself. There aren't many out there and considering how big gardening is here, I'm surprised.

    A garden blog is a great way to keep a multimedia garden journal of your garden and how it will change when you add to the berry bushes you have. I almost bought a couple of them today at Menards after seeing your reply. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. HI, I tried paper pots for 50 little pepper seedlings yeaterday. They worked well. My pictures are here if you want to take a look: http://carletongarden.blogspot.com/2007/04/potting-peppers.html
    I didn't give the pots bottoms. Do you? Thank for the great idea.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Skippy.

    When I do it I did them them a bottom because it will be easier to to lift them. When you go to plant them in the ground make sure they're a little moist so the soil holds together.

    And you're quite welcomed but it wasn't really my idea someone smarter than I thought of this a long time ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous12:03 AM

      hey guys I am so excited to start my seed-starting project with so many easy ideas here. This time surely its gonna b a different experience.

      Delete
  17. Mr. Brownthumb,

    I love your ideas, but have a question: A few years back, I started seeds in home-made newspaper pots and had fungi issues - any ideas on sterilizing newspaper, or other thoughts on avoiding fungi?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anonymous12:37 PM

    Just thought I would say thanks for the idea, was looking how to use newspaper for pots, I am from Ontario Canada on 5 acres and do alot of planting. I have no idea how to blog or any of that fancy stuff on computors just wanted to say Thanks David Wilson

    ReplyDelete
  19. David Wilson12:41 PM

    Sorry just figured out how to put my name at the top. I have put this on my favorites and will visit once and a while to see if there are new tips I could use
    Thanks again

    ReplyDelete
  20. David,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Even if you aren't good with computers you can still blog about gardening if you're interested. It is just as easy as typing an email and hitting "send." Look forward to seeing you again.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Anonymous9:08 AM

    Hi. I'm curious about what Debbie asked above: the fungus growing on the newspaper - will that be an issue? I can grow mold better than any other "plant" in the world!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Anonymous,

    Sorry for the late reply. If you keep it too wet a fuzzy fungus can grow on it. Just make sure you have good air circulation and don't keep things too wet.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I remember my grandmother making newspaper seed pots. That was a long time ago. I just started a garden blog in Miami, http://terramirablilis.blogspot.com. I've only got two blogs on the blog roll, but you are the first.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi Penny,

    Thanks for that.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Instead of peat pots can I use newspaper folded into the size and shape I need to start seeds?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Silver, Yes. You can.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Any thoughts as to how long the paper pots will hold up? Here in California I usually start my tomatoes and peppers seedlings in early January and pot them up to 4" pots in late February or early March. Will the newspaper stand up to 2+ months of abuse? Or are they better suited to quick sprouters?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Rena, If you make them thick enough and you aren't moving them around they should hold up that long. Also, by about the month mark the roots should fill out the soil quite nicely and keep the soil in place even if the paper starts to disintegrate. Make a whole tray of them so that they're bunched up tightly together and they'll keep pretty well.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Steve M.2:24 PM

    Cheers Mr BT. I'm a soldier in England looking for this very thing for my Tomatoes, for the summer here. Thanks very much.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Allison9:21 AM

    Hi there! If fungus has started growing on the newspaper pots can the problem be remedied by increasing air circulation or should I attempt to transplant them to new pots?

    ReplyDelete
  31. Steve, Thanks for the feedback. Hope you have a lot of success with your tomatoes this year.

    Allison, You can increase the air circulation or cut down a bit on the moisture. But if it looks really bad go ahead and repot in a new newspaper pot.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Have you ever had problems with the plants growing through their paper pots and into other pots? I used these once, and had a mess on my hands when transplating time came, it was a mass of roots! Any idea as to how to prevent this from happening in the future?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nona,

      Sorry I missed your email before. But you can try starting your seeds closer to when you are transplanting them into containers or the ground. If you do it too early the plants may develop a lot of roots and pots will start to disintegrate.

      Delete
  33. I've had good luck with the cardboard 6-pack cartons that 12oz bottles of beer come in. They hold a bit more moisture and soil than the egg cartons, so for larger plant seeds they can put off the need for a transplant a bit longer.

    And it's a great excuse to buy more beer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the tip. I'll have to try that one out.

      Delete
  34. Anonymous12:34 AM

    Great Ideas Everyone! I also went to the back of a Breakfast house and rummaged through the trash for egg flats for seed starters. My cheap greenhouse idea is if you have an old car not in use, use it! I keep my egg flats on trays to transport for watering then place them in the rear window for added warmth in late winter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing your tips!

      Delete
  35. Anonymous1:19 PM

    This blog is wonderful! I've just started urban gardening on my balcony in the south of Spain, and am getting loads of fantastic tips from you. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the feedback, it really means a lot to me.

      Delete
  36. Anonymous6:57 PM

    SAK Mar 12,2012 8:50pm
    Have enjoyed reading all the comments from 3, 2007. Have been gardening for years but always bought the plants. Would like to start some seeds but only have a cpl. window sills a little deeper than 5". One faces the south & the other west. Will that be enuf light for them to sprout & grow into sturdy plants? And am thinking it would be a little early to put them out the end of this month.
    Info from any one would be great especially if they live in the North/East

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, a south facing window should provide you enough light to sprout any number of seedlings on your windowsill.

      Delete
  37. Anonymous1:43 PM

    I tried many ways to start plants but my parents used a small 2' by 3'in ground box with a slanted platic covered screen reenforce top for garden seeds. Plated the seeds early and just let them grew all buched together. To plant just gently pull what they wanted and planted. The plants become limp amd looked dead but in couple days spring right up and that is everyone of the seedings they planted. That is the old way. Now they want you to buy pots. I wonder why. But your idea is a great one for sure. But it does take a lot more soil and special handling. I like the old rugged peat moss pots which are only $3 at Dollar Store for 50. That is 6 cents apeice and there no place on the net will you beat that price.I just plant the whole pot. I also like the small round peat moss that swell with water but for some reason they are gone from the stores and the net has them almost 20c a piece. I think my parents way was the best, the cheapest and hardly any work to it. Just keep air off the roots when you plant and though they look dead they will come right on upped after planting everytime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing how you start your seeds for your garden. The peat pots are the dollar store can't be beat for their price.

      Delete
  38. Anonymous1:35 PM

    I love the paper roll idea! I was able to buy some pellets early this year but I just didn't have any trays to put them in, Thanks for all of the great ideas, I can't wait to get in the dirt :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcomed. I'm glad you've found the garden blog useful.

      Delete
  39. Linked this to my garden blog. I've noticed one small problem with this method... I get white mold growing on the outside of the paper. Is it just me or is it meant to happen that way?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sue,

      It's not just you. I touch on the white, fuzzy mold that forms on newspaper pots (all biodegradable pots, really)in this post http://mrbrownthumb.blogspot.com/2012/04/seed-starting-tips-for-beginner.html Basically, it happens when the medium is too wet, but it really is just a cosmetic issue. The newspaper pots and seedlings are fine.

      Delete
  40. Hi! I've been starting my own seeds for several years now, and 2 years ago I've tried newspaper pots that I made myself... 200 newspaper pots started indoor mid-March. A hell of a job! Everything went well 'till the shoots had to grow leaves. The seeds that I had planted in standard plastic pots were growing much faster and healthier than the ones in newspaper pot. See for yourself here :
    http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y84/LoVo/Jardin/problemes/28-avril-2011-058_basilic.jpg
    The basil in the 2 pots type were started at the same time, and were grown under the same conditions. Same thing for the Marigold here :
    http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y84/LoVo/Jardin/problemes/28-avril-2011-061_tagetes.jpg
    I've concluded that newspaper ink (which is vegetable ink) must contain some kind of growth inhibitor which slowly pass into the substrate with watering. I've made some other experiences there after that increases this conclusion. Ok! I didn't made the chemical analysis of the substrate, but personaly, I won't use newspaper pots ever again.



    ReplyDelete

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